Through 24 minutes of Friday night's clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Boston Celtics couldn't buy a basket.
But when winning time rolled around, Kyrie Irving came to play, and the Celtics rattled off their seventh straight win as they downed the Thunder 101-94 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Irving—whose first made field goal came with 2:02 remaining in the second quarter—erupted down the stretch and scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half to lead the Celtics past a Thunder team that was bested 64-39 in the third and fourth quarters.
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NBA scribe Nate Duncan offered a visual overview of Irving's stunning second-half turnaround:
Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA
Kyrie's second half after that final bucket. Huge performance from him after struggling in the first #TwitterNBAShow https://t.co/99yE6Wi92j https://t.co/i7YOcepZ6H2017-11-4 03:58:23
Al Horford was similarly clutch and dropped 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as he shot 8-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-4 from three.
The NBA relayed video of Horford's big conversion to put the Celtics up six with time winding down:
Al Horford in the clutch for the @Celtics on @ESPNNBA! https://t.co/thGg5CawPJ2017-11-4 03:53:58
Put simply, Friday was a tale of two halves.
The Thunder led by 18 points through two quarters, and they looked dominant on both ends as they regularly poked holes in the Celtics' top-ranked defense and stifled their stable of scorers, as The Vertical's Chris Mannix observed:
Chris Mannix @ChrisMannixYS
Oklahoma City's defense continues to be legit. Irving having a nightmare first half. Thunder clogging the paint, forcing tough shots.2017-11-4 02:38:52
However, the second half represented a complete backslide.
Not only were the Thunder scorched by Irving and Horford, but their offense flatlined, per Duncan:
Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA
My big takeaway from this one: OKC unable to run a fluid O and move side to side against good defenses. Their 2H shot chart: https://t.co/pVVuAxjrlj2017-11-4 04:02:09
The deficiencies that plagued their Big Three were a big reason why.
Russell Westbrook flirted with a triple-double to the tune of 19 points, 11 assists and six rebounds, but he shot 7-of-20 from the field.
Carmelo Anthony was mired in even worse struggles and finished with 10 points and a season-high 14 rebounds while shooting 3-of-17, including a historically bad 1-of-12 in the second half, per ESPN Stats & Info:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Carmelo Anthony shot 1-of-12 (8.3%) in the second half. Worst shooting half of his career when taking 10 attempts. https://t.co/7TD3Gw9UpQ2017-11-4 04:17:20
Then there was Paul George, who shot 3-of-10 from three and 9-of-20 overall as he fought his way to 25 points and 10 boards.
If there's a silver lining for the Thunder, it's that they'll be back in action Sunday against a Portland Trail Blazers team that surrendered 110 points to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday evening at Moda Center.
The Celtics, on the other hand, will aim for their eighth straight win Sunday at Amway Center versus the 6-3 Orlando Magic.
Advanced stats courtesy of NBA.com.